Augusta's Vaughn Taylor returns to the Masters

By Kyle Dawson
Published on
Augusta's Vaughn Taylor returns to the Masters

AUGUSTA -- Vaughn Taylor could be in Cartagena right now.

Cartagena, the Colombian home of the Tour's Servientrega Championship, was a likely destination for Taylor before he won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Valentine's Day in dramatic fashion.

Now, instead of fighting for the $126,000 winner's share in Colombia hours of flights away, the Augusta native has a chance at the $1.8 million Masters prize just a 17-minute drive away -- 5 minutes closer than Aiken's Kevin Kisner.

Taylor, playing on conditional status on the Tour, hit his low point the week before Pebble Beach when he came down with a stomach virus in Bogota, Colombia at the start of the Club Colombia Championship.

"I was just laying in bed, just praying for it to stop," he said. "It was just a combination of where I was, how I was feeling and what status I had. And felt a lot of pressure heading into Pebble, because I knew it was going to be one of my few Tour starts of the year, and it was tough; a tough couple days there in Bogota."

There was no time to dwell on those tough days in Bogota, as Taylor headed to Pebble Beach -- he was the first alternate, gaining entry into the field when Carl Pettersson withdrew. He entered the tournament's final round six strokes behind Phil Mickelson, then was waiting on pins and needles to see if Mickelson could tie him after Taylor's 7-under 65.

Lefty misfired on the 72nd green, giving Taylor his first win in nearly 11 years, and it wasn't until a post-round interview with Dottie Pepper that it truly sunk in that Taylor would be returning to Augusta for the first time since 2008.

That all may have been inspired by his 2015 trip to Augusta National -- as a spectator.

"I would say (it provided motivation). It had been a long time, and I felt really comfortable here, though," said Taylor. "I feel like I hadn't missed that much time, so it was a good feeling and a good experience."

The flip side to that, though, is that Augusta National may have been in the back of Taylor's mind ever since Pebble Beach -- he's missed four cuts in four tries coming into this week.

"It's possible. I've kind of felt a little different since then," he said. "My swing's felt different. So you know, I can't really say for sure, but this has definitely been in the back of my mind since Pebble. I've been working this week. And all the things that feel funny are kind of my tendencies. ... So it's kind of, just shows you how crazy golf is and how tough it can be sometimes. But I feel like I've got a game plan and working on everything. I'm hoping things will come together this week, too."

Taylor's best Masters finish was a tie for 10th in 2007, the year Zach Johnson won the tournament at 1-over-par in unseasonably cold, windy conditions. Similar weather is projected for this week, and while that doesn't suit Taylor's style of play -- he'd rather have warmer temperatures to shorten the course -- he said he could use that past experience to try to become comfortable with it.

This article was written by Kyle Dawson from Aiken Standard, S.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.